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In Afghanistan, 14 U.S. Troops Killed in 3 Days

August 30, 2010 at 2:36 PM EST
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RAY SUAREZ: The latest U.S. casualty numbers out of Afghanistan were grim indeed — 14 killed in the past three days. They died in a series of new attacks by Taliban insurgents.

Seven Americans were killed today in two roadside bombs in Southern Afghanistan. Seven others died over the weekend, making a total of 49 killed in August following the record 66 in July. Saturday saw predawn insurgent raids on two forward operating bases in the eastern city of Khost. One base, Camp Chapman, was where an al-Qaida double agent killed seven CIA personnel last December.

The Saturday assaults were the latest to target large U.S. installations. Some of the attackers reportedly wore American military fatigues over their suicide vests.

At least 21 insurgents died, but there were no coalition casualties. But Afghan President Hamid Karzai found little to be pleased about. On Sunday, he sharply criticized coalition strategy, saying it has been ineffective, apart from causing civilian casualties.

Karzai’s complaint came amid new tensions with the U.S. over the festering issue of wide spread corruption in his government. The issue was front and center 10 days ago, when the chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, John Kerry, visited Kabul.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-Mass.), Foreign Relations Committee Chairman: I was very heartened to hear the president and members of his government recommit themselves to significant efforts in the days ahead to guarantee the independent operation of their major crimes unit as an Afghan institution, a sovereign Afghan institution.

RAY SUAREZ: Karzai pledged in turn to let that independent team continue its work, albeit with a caveat.

HAMID KARZAI, President of Afghanistan (through translator): With regard to the anti-crimes task force and sensitive investigation body, which is of concern to the international community, which we have begun to look at, we will make sure that these bodies are run in accordance with Afghan laws.

RAY SUAREZ: But, on Sunday, The New York Times reported Karzai fired a top prosecutor who claimed his investigations of high officials had been repeatedly blocked. In Washington, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley voiced concern today.

P.J. CROWLEY, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs: What he was doing was vitally important to fighting corruption in Afghanistan. It is an area that we are watching closely. We are concerned by recent pronouncements, recent actions by the Afghan government.

RAY SUAREZ: There was also word that President Karzai personally intervened to free an aide accused of bribery. The Times said that aide was also a paid CIA informant. And The Washington Post reported a number of Karzai administration officials are on the agency payroll. That could mean the CIA is paying the very same Afghans whose ouster is being urged by other American officials. Meantime, outside the palace walls, the violence and body counts grow, putting 2010 on pace to be the bloodiest year yet in the nine-year war.